Monday, October 31, 2011

Sickey Sickey Sick Sick...

So yesterday was my birthday (yaaay) but today is the one week-a-versary of me being very very sick (boooo). I figure that I'd take the opportunity to make a brief correction to one of my Bullshit videos:

3:55 - 4:55 is what I feel needs correcting. Don't go outside without a jacket or you'll catch a cold!

Of course being cold will not make you sick in itself, BUT it is true that it can contribute. Let me explain a little further:

In order to be sick you need to have the sickness-causing pathogen in your body. However, you usually are harboring such pathogens for weeks on end without any symptoms. The pathogen lives in your body, where your immune system does a decent job of fighting it, therefore you have no idea that this private little battle is going on. However, if you subject your body to a sudden stress, like staying out all night without a jacket or suddenly stopping eating for a day or two, you will cause your body to divert resources from fighting this pathogen to protecting your body from this sudden stress, which can tip the scales in favor of the pathogen and allow it to take over, resulting in sickness. This is where the "myth" comes from, although it doesn't really feel right to call it a myth because there is some truth to it, it's just a misunderstanding as to what kind of contribution the outdoor temperature can have to a cold, fever or flu.

Now I must get back to my medicine and bed. If only I hadn't slept with the window open that night I could have avoided getting my very first tonsillitis!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Support the LGBT Community Today

I was reminded that today is dedicated to the support of the LGBT Community and awareness of LGBT suicide by my little American cousin, which made my heart swell with pride and happiness given that she is being raised in an evangelical Christian family, and therefore I had no idea that she would be so openly supportive of this cause. Alas I woke up this morning only to discover that I do not own a single item of purple clothing, and since today is not dedicated to the same cause in Italy it would have been an entirely lost gesture anyway, but I did change my facebook profile picture to purple and decided to write this post to show my support instead. 

As I  have written about before on this blog, it sickens me how much homophobia is tolerated in todays socitey. It was compounded by my morning intake of news, during which I was confronted with these two news stories

Whether you choose to spread awareness, support and vote for legislation for equality, or to simply step in when you see hatred and discrimination happening in front of you, show your support for the LGBT community's fight for equality today.

Thank you

PS I must roll my eyes and stop a troll message just waiting to happen. No I am not a lesbian. No I am not a closeted lesbian or a bisexual. I am one of the few women that I know that has never kissed another woman, because the idea does not appeal to me in the slightest, not even when drunk on a dare. However this does not preclude me from having a strong opinion on the matter. You don't have to be a woman to abhor misogyny or the stoning of women. You don't have to be black to be disgusted with the KKK. You don't have to be gay to wear purple today in a show of support.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free Speech and Criminal Speech: Where Do We Draw The Line?

This morning this video caught my eye, mainly because it made me think about something at 7am when I would have much rathered watch something mindless with my morning stay-awake-or-you'll-spill-it-and-burn-yourself tea. It involves the very fine line between protected free speech and criminal, dangerous speech.

It involves a young man whose car gets towed from the college that he attends, and in the process of towing his car someone found a note inside which read:

If this account doesn't reach 50,000 in the next seven days 
then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shootings 
will occur at another highly populated university 
This is no joke

He claims they are rap lyrics, authorities thought otherwise, compounded with the fact that he is in posession of a gun and is also in the process of buying other ones on the internet, and promptly arrested him. The question is, should he have been? Was his freedom of speech violated?

First of all I wrote the "lyrics" down in order to confirm my initial suspicion: they don't rhyme (except maybe "days" and "rampage", but it's a stretch). Rapping without rhyming is, well, talking. Also I resent Jayar saying that they look just like Eminem lyrics, you may not like his music but he happens to be a master at rhyming.

Anyway, I have to disagree with the hosts a bit more on their opinion of this. Of course the man's attorney is trying to get the case thrown out because the note was not directed at a specific target, it did not outline or detail a plan of any kind, therefore it still classifies as protected speech. After a little thought I think I agree with his lawyer.

Ana argues that they should continue to investigate this man because there is the possibility that the note was, as it stated, "not a joke". However, you do not need to keep someone under arrest in order to investigate them. I think that the police should have investigated further before arresting him, since if a good judge realizes that they had no grounds for arresting him in the first place they will throw the whole case out and it could hurt their chances of prosecuting him in the future, if he turns out to be a criminal (also I think that if anything should be illegal in this case it should be to buy numerous weapons online, but in the US it is not and so that is a story for another day).

Despite the fact that, when I first heard the story I thought ARREST HIM!, I realized later that upon further reflection I don't agree with that gut reaction at all. Sometimes the fine lines that are drawn in the law seem arbitrary, but they really help when it comes down to making borderline decisions such as this one. If he did not break any laws they have no right to keep him under arrest. They can investigate him and see if they can find something that would give them the right to do so, they could question him to see if he is obviously unstable, but they can't arrest him for not breaking the law (is it even legal for them to be going through his things in his car and reading his notes when they were just towing it? Do let me know).

Initially I thought it was probably something he was going to post on his youtube channel or social media page, as in if I don't get 50,000 subscribers or 50,000 likes or 50,000 hits or whatever then I will do blablabla. Whether or not he would ever follow through with such a threat I can't have the faintest idea. The point is that I don't think he should have been arrested for it, nor do I think they should even be considering bringing him to trial for writing some words on a sheet of paper.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sex, Sexuality and Why Are Homophobes So Obsessed With It?

I started thinking about this when I was watching the coverage of the Republican debates, but had forgotten about this until something else made it come back to my mind.

While it is always amusing to watch bigots squirm under direct questioning regarding their bigotry, Rick Santorum actually brought up something that I have heard repeated a few times from homophobes when discussing, for example, whether or not it is appropriate to expose children to the idea of same sex couples.
What?? How is allowing gay men and women to die from their country adding a provision to include sexual activity in the military?? What the HELL does sex have to do with someone's sexual identity? Of course the people that someone will choose to have sex with will be influenced by their sexual identity, and the two words share three letters, but what exactly does Rick Santorum think? If we allow gay men into the military there will be rampant ass-fucking orgies in the showers every night?

It is this incredibly ridiculous notion that talking about gay rights automatically means talking about gay sex. It is because of this that many homophobes freak at the idea of children finding out about gay couples. They're too young to understand!! Understand what exactly? This is just another example of sexualizing our children. When you tell your 6 year old "Uncle John and Aunt Sarah are getting married, do you want to be a flower girl?" she doesnt think "that means that John and Sarah are going to hump like bunnies on their wedding night!" It's absurd. Telling you child that sometimes, two men or two women will get married too, will result in the response "oh... OK!" not "But where do they put their pee-pees then Daddy?" If your child doesn't even know where babies come from, how is clueing them in on the existence of same-sex couples in any way exposing them to gay sex?

Is it because homophobes think of gay sex everytime they see two men or two women together? Is it just with gays, or do they imagine the dirty between-the-sheets details of every single couple they see on the street? Are they really that repressed? Of course some of them are closeted homosexuals, there has been plenty of evidence to that, but Im not going to pretend that they all are. Maybe the combination of an overly sexual person and a lifetime of religiously inspired sexual repression and shame is the perfect storm which results in hateful and bigoted people.

What is your theory on the subject?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on: Racism, Ignorance and Political Correctness

This is another one of those topics that is so multidimensional that it is difficult for me to figure out how I'm going to even structure this, but I'll do the best I can.

Here is the disclaimer: I am white. oooohhh noooo that means that I am not allowed to have any sort of opinion on this!!! Bullshit. Racism does not = whites hating/discriminating against blacks. It is so much more complicated than that. I am an Italian with American heritage, and that meant that sometimes I had a hard time, but most of the time I was fine. When the war first broke out in Iraq it was not a good thing to be an American anywhere in Europe, particularly in Italy which was a country that was dragged in to the war despite the overwhelming majority of the people not wanting to have any part in it. When I moved to Ireland I was constantly referred to as "the tanned one", which I only found amusing seeing as I am quite white for an Italian. When I moved to Northern Italy it became apparent that some people were going to hate on me for being from Rome, as there is a right-wing group that has a lot of traction up here that staunchly hates everyone from Rome and below, saying that they don't work and are solely responsible for all of Italy's angst. Compound that with the fact that my boyfriend of four years is Romanian, which has been the single most hated nationality in Italy for years now, although it looks like recently Albania has begun to compete for the top spot. Putting that all together, I have had a share of racism and/or ignorance flung my way. Anyway, even if I hadn't, I am not of the opinion that only those who have experienced it are allowed to comment on it, so I feel my opinions would stand anyway.

Back to the topic at hand. I feel like there needs to be a strong distinction between "racism" and "ignorance", although racism of course stems from ignorance. When my Irish friend, upon seeing a black man for the first time at age 7 on the bus, exclaimed "Mammy! What's wrong with that man? Is he dirty?!" his mother was right to be mortified, but no one could possibly claim that he was a racist. Saying the same thing at age 20, now you're being a racist. So when do the two begin to split? I once tried to explain my distinction of the two with a story, trying to explain why Italians hate Romanians so much, and yet very few of them are actual racists:

Imagine tomorrow when you wake up you discover that there is a group of green people that live on an island off the coast of (insert your country here). They have always been there, it has been known, but you are only just finding out about it because the news says that they are now going to be servicing that island with a much more regular ferry than there previously was. At first you feel weary, which is only natural. Next week you see one in the flesh for the first time in the supremarket, you will probably stare more than you would at any other person, but that is only natural as well. Other than that, your contact with these green people is limited to the occasional chance sighting.
But then the news starts reporting. It looks like many of these green people are poor, and since more of them have been moving to your town there have been burglaries commited by the green people. A green person murdered an old man while trying to steal his wallet. Three green people were arrested for stealing a series of cars. Five burglaries occur in 10 days, two green men arrested. What is your opinion of these green people now? That they have invaded your town in order to steal and create mayhem, much better if they go back to the island they came from where they belong!
But then you meet one. And another one. All of the green people you meet are actually really nice and hardworking people. You may hear of one or two that are not, but from your personal experience you start to see that they are not looking for anything except a chance to work and earn a living. What is your opinion of them now?
If you change your opinion, you were just ignorant before, because you did not have all the information you needed to form a sound opinion. If you still maintain that green people should be shipped back to where they came from you're a racist.

Aside: I am of the belief that the way media reports things, particularly in this country, perpetuates ignorance about people who are different. "Two Romanians arrested for", "Five Africans arrested for", and if it was an Italian? "A young man arrested for". What the HELL difference does it make if they are black, white or eastern european?? They are criminals and you arrested them, good for you. Unless you are giving a description of someone that the public needs to look out for, or if the crime in question was a hate crime, why are you even mentioning their ethnicity as if it were pertinent to the story?

Anyway, I have always gone to international schools and have always been raised in an international environment, so I never understood racism. To me, judging someone based on the color of their skin is as retarded as judging someone based on the color of their hair. However, in that vein, I also never understood the mania with political correctness, for the exact same reason.

I understand political correctness insofar as to make some people, particularly older people, understand that certain words are now offensive although they weren't back in their day. Take my grandmother for instance, who is just now transitioning away from the word "negro" (pronounced "n-eh-gro, not nearly as bad as the word nigger in English, in fact there is no word in italian that comes anywhere as close as that in offensiveness, but a touch more offensive than the word "negro" in English). My father, her son, is married to a black woman, trust me there is not a racist bone in her body, but she just didn't understand that that word is now offensive.

However, when it comes to the nervousness and panic that I see in some people when talking to someone of a different race or nationality because they are terrorized of offending them, I don't get it. What exactly are you afraid of saying? Something racist? Fuck I'll be offended if you say something racist, regardless of the fact that I'm white. To me, being overly worried about political correctness is just another, milder, form of racism.

Making a judgement about someone based on their physical characteristics or nationality is stupid, no matter what that judgement is. You think because someone has darker skin than yourself they should be talked down to, or differently than you would someone who is white? They are ADULTS just like you, should be treated the exact same way as you would treat anyone else. To me, the color of someone's skin or the words on their passport doesn't factor remotely into my opinion of them or the way I talk to them, and for this reason I don't get what the big deal is.

Am I wrong? Is it really so different in other countries that I just don't get it? Let me know

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looks Like We Are Number 1 in Something....

So it turns out that Italy holds the world record in 2011 for most solar panels installed, beating Germany, which was the world leader in solar panels for ten years, 3:1. Looks like she's finally going green, ah bless. Considering that Italy was one of the last countries in the developed world to get rid of leaded gas, I found this to be very surprising indeed.

See what I did there? It is genetically impossible for an Italian person to say something good about their country without immediately following it up with a pegorative comment. If anyone does have a mutation which allows them to complement this country unchecked, they are immediately labeled as naive suckers, the poor dears.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why Isn't This Bigger News?!

I found out about this from Pharyngula, and I was blown away. Not that the Catholic Church had another scandal on its hands, but that I had heard about it from Pharyngula.

In sum, over the course of 50 years and ending in the early 1990s, women who gave birth in Catholic hospitals that the nuns there disapproved of, usually because they were unmarried, were told that their child had died and that they were not allowed to attend their funeral. Of course the children were just fine, and they were sold, not given, sold for the price of an apartment to childless devout couples all over the country, complete with a forged birth certificate.

Why did they stop such a lucrative practice? Because until 1990 the hospitals were solely in charge of adoptions, controlling it on every level. After 1990 the Spanish Government began regulating adoption, so it fizzled out.

The whole thing came out after a man who had bought his son from a priest confessed everything to him when on his deathbed. The nun who was responsible for the kidnapping was tracked down and she confessed, and more digging came up with a number: 300,000 children. That's 15% of all the adoptions that took place in Spain between 1960 and 1989. What's the second worst thing the Catholic church could have on its hands, after the systematic rape of children and subsequent cover-up? There you go.

So where the HELL is the media frenzy over this?

Now obviously I haven't seen every news program in every country, but I want to know why the hell this isn't bigger news. Not a peep from the Italian news, but you can say Italy is a Catholic country so they're keeping it on the dl. OK (even though they definitely covered the sex scandals), but what about BBC broke the story with a documentary on October 16th, the news hasn't been covering this since then? I'm not into conspiracy theories in the slightest, but does the Catholic church really have that much influence?

I tend to think not. The Magdalene laundries, the major pedophilia scandal, the Catholic Church's involvment in the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa, it's all relatively public knowledge and has been discussed in the media of today's society.

So please, you tell me, have you heard about this? If so, from where? Is the media ignoring it? Are they just a little late to the game and will spread the story eventually? Or am I making too much of a big deal about this?

Is this, this , this or this (all found on their homepages) bigger news than the Catholic Church stealing infants?

Looks like I might start looking to the BBC for my news from now on

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are We Sexualizing Our Children?

This is a tough one. On the one hand, I want to scream at how ridiculously prudish society is becoming. On the other, there are some cases which scream an undeniable yes. So where exactly do you draw the line?

Now I live in a country where these extremes are not so well defined as of yet, so I bring my mentality to the table here. I remember when I worked for a summer in a girls camp in the US, a "lovely" place with 8 showers, 2 of them outdoors, to be shared between about 100 kids and staff. Because of this, two of the little girls came up with a brilliant idea, let's shower together to save time. Well, the staff leader freaked. That's inapprppriate!! It doesnt matter whether or not they had bathing suits on!! You CANNOT allow it!! One thing I did agree with was that yea, it didn't matter whether or not they had bathing suits on. However, what I thought was inappropriate was shaming two 9-yr old girls as if they were doing something wrong. To me, this was an extreme case of the prudes, to the point that it might even hurt the kids their warped ideas where meant to protect. If anything, the overly-prudish behaviour seems to me to be sexualizing them more, because you're projecting sexual ideas onto children when they are nothing of the sort.  Once again, this comes from the mentality of a European, where 2-4yr old kids regularly run around the beach naked, where 4-9yr old girls only wear the bottom half of bathing suits, and brothers and sisters or even friends have baths together until they decide they're too embarassed to do so themselves. It's normal, they're kids, no one thinks twice about it.

The line became much finer to define when I watched the following two videos:

When I saw the first one, I didn't care, and yet the second one made me sick. I got to wondering, why is that?

OK so I had to make a few assumptions about the first video. Ana is obviously very biased in her opinion of the pole dancing classes, so she gave very little concrete information about what it entailed. Basically the information you get is that these girls were taking pole dancing classes, some pictures were posted on facebook, outrage ensued.

Disclaimer: I don't want to hear anyone drudging out the old "what about the perverts" argument. It's a dead horse, lay off it. First of all, the day we modify our behavior to satisfy a bunch of crazy freaks is the day the crazy freaks win. Secondly, perverts will get aroused by any picture of a kid, be it in a bathing suit at the beach, at a gymnastics class doing the splits or in a burka. There's no point thinking about what a perv is going to think when choosing your pictures.

Putting that aside, I had made a few assumptions based on A. the picture they showed of the instructor of the class and B. what I know about pole dancing classes from personal experience (obviously if any of my assumptions turn out not to be true, the following argument does not apply). Firstly, based on the extremely innocent picture of the instructor, the outfits that I presume the girls were wearing were not sexy or skimpy, they were at worst the classic gymnast costume. Secondly, from my own experience in dabbling in pole dancing in Ireland, I assumed they were not being taught stripper moves either.

Pole dancing classes started becoming popular because it was realized that pole dancing is AMAZING exercise which works out every single part of your body. Also, it's freaking hard. If any guy decided to look in on the pole dancing class that I went to in order to get off would have been sorely disappointed to find a group of sweaty red-faced ladies in leggings and baggy shirts trying to keep up with the instructor and not fall flat on their faces. They would have gotten much more gratification from watching a belly-dancing class. But of course as soon as people hear "pole" they think "stripper", so when it got out that mothers would ever let their daughters participate in pole-dancing classes made both the hosts and the comments section go bezerk. However, if my assumptions are true, i say pfft PRUDES! leave them alone!! Just because the pole is vertical rather than horizontal doesn't make their gymnastics any more or less sexy. GET OVER IT.

Then I saw the second video, and I thought I'd be sick. A woman dressing up her 3yr old as a fucking hooker?! Disgusting. Outrageous. Immoral. That poor child. But what made me react so differently to these two different situations? Where do I draw the line in my own subconscious, for me to have such a visceral reaction to one but nothing to the other?

It comes down to what we project onto our children. When a woman intentionally sexualizes her child, that's disgusting. Kids will be kids, and we forget that they have a completely different mentality before puberty. Sex does not factor into the life of a 7yr old, and yet it's hard for us to get it out of our heads. So as long as kids will be kids, let them be. If by age 6 they're still not embarassed to take a bath with their brother or sister, let them. If they want to put on a dance for you in their bathing suit at the beach, there's nothing wrong with that. However, when adults take their own sexualized thoughts and stick them onto their kids, whether it's to dress them up like a prostitute or to chide them for swimming naked with a friend, to me that is disgusting in equal measure. If a 3-yr old gets into her mother's makeup and slathers lipstick on her face it's cute, laugh and take a picture. If a mother puts red lipstick on her fake-tanned 3yr old in order to turn more heads at a beauty pageant, it turns my stomach. That's where I personally draw the line.

Where do you?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Patriotic Mentality

As I explained in my first ever post, I have a double nationality, with one foot firmly in Italy, and one (well, perhaps a toe at the moment) in the US of A. This has given me a unique perspective, one that can view both countries in both a subjective and objective way. Something that has always struck me about the accepted cultural mentality with regards to these countries (speaking in generalizations of course, there are always people who are more objective with regards to their own country) are polar opposites, and yet I see both as being straight roads to failure. Let me explain further.

I have always been floored by the patriotism that is commonplace in the USA. The reverence for the flag, the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem played at every baseball game, all of it baffled me. But even if you forget about all of that, there is still a prevalent mentality, sometimes a subconscious one, that the USA is the best country in the world, and every other country wants to be like US. When I used to visit during my college years, I had numerous people, and I mean liberal, freethinking and well-travelled people, ask me why on earth hadn't I chosen the US when I was deciding on a college. In order to keep the answer short and away from "starting my working life under a pile of debt just didnt seem all that appealing to me" I gave them my second reason for not doing so, because the US is just too far away from the rest of the world. They all looked at me baffled, thought for a moment, and all of them, I shit you not, gave me the exact same answer:

"Huh. That's interesting. I never thought of that. See for us, America is the world"

The lack of internationality also aside, the patriotism in the US runs extremely deep. Americans do believe, unconsciously or not, that they are a model for the rest of the world, that everyone wants to move there and live there, that they have the best quality of life of the developed world, despite the stark evidence to the contrary. If I picked any old bar in the US, stood up, raised my glass and yelled "A toast to the USA! The greatest country in the world!" I would probably be met with a variation of nodding to outright applause (if any of you USAers want to give this a shot for me and share your stories, I'd love to hear them!)

Now lets contrast that with the prevalent Italian mentality.

In Italy, all you ever hear is "this is the worst fucking country in the entire world". When I tell people that Im here doing my PhD at the moment, all they can say to me is "What? Why the hell did you come back here? You speak English, leave this god forsaken country! Don't you know that this country has gone to the dogs?! If I were young, I'd leave this place and never look back! Well you finish your PhD, but then get out as fast as you possibly can! Here, we might as well be living in the Congo the way things are going nowadays. You'll see, we're desitined for a ruin the likes of which Haiti hasn't even seen. We're the laughing stock of the EU let me tell you!" And on and on and on. Good old Italian optimism. If I picked any old bar in Italy, stood up and raised a glass and yelled "A toast to Italy! The greatest country in the whole world!" I'd be met with laughter, jeers, and at the door the men in white coats would be waiting to bring me to a special place.

That isn't to say that Italy doesn't have its problems. I am the first to ackowlegde that there is a lot of work to do to get this country back on its feet. But Italians fail to recognize that there are other countries that have it much, much worse. They take what they have for granted, that if Italy has it, that means everyone does (like a very inclusive universal health care system), and everything else is just garbage and attests to the fact that Italy is unsavable, shameful and embarassing.

And now these two polar opposite countries are both facing some extremely tough times ahead. Both need sweeping reform and really new ideas. Yet what struck me most was how these two extremely opposing views seem to come to the same conclusion: hampering this change that is sorely needed.

On the one side you have the American view. What this can come to often is "yes, we have some problems, but we're still Number 1. We're still the best. We may need to change some things, but what we're doing works, we're number 1 after all, so theres no need to rock the boat all that much"

Compare that to the Italian view: "It doesn't matter what we do. All politicians are corrupt bums. I don't even vote anymore. Why should I? they're all the exact same and will the steal the exact same amount. Nothing is going to change. Ever. No point in getting our hopes up or expecting anything that's never going to happen".

See how these opposite extremes come down to the same thing? In order to have real change we have to put all of these personal biases aside. The idea that "change is impossible" or "we're too perfect to change" is ludicrous. People need to start looking at things objectively. America, don't be afraid to copy something that is working wonders in Norway because you think they're "socialist" or because you're subconsciously afraid that by taking a page from someone elses book you will diminish your status as alpha male and ackowledge an inferiority on your part. Italy, don't be afraid to really and truly reach for the stars, to identify what problems there are and do your part to eradicate them to create a better future for your children. Change is not bad, its inevitable, the important thing is to make sure that you change for the better, and you change enough to really make a difference.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Do You Care?

Despite my preference for scientific videos on youtube and my eventual plan to make a few of my own, I have avoided the subject of evolution and creationism directly on this blog. I was trying to create a place where actual debatable things could be discussed, things that rely strongy on personal logic, morality and philosophy. A denial of the veracity of natural selection does not fall in to that category, and there are people that have explained evolutionary theory and mechanisms over and over to the youtube community at large already. That isn't to say that if someone asked me directly a specific question with regards to a scientific matter that I wouldn't answer it to the best of my abilities, but that has not yet happened beyond a silly ID video posted as a response to Penn and Teller - Creationism Part 2, but that simply uses the classic argument "It's far too complicated for my brain to grasp, therefore it must be designed by something far mor intelligent than mere mortals". Beyond pointing out that that is a fallacy, and after he admitted that it was what he "believed" (as opposed to something he knew) there isn't really much to say about it.

So for these reasons I have not delved into the biology behind evolutionary theory, or explained certain mechanisms that may have been beyond some people's understanding. However, I still enjoy watching science videos, and if I see someone in the comments section that hasn't understood something I do tend to try to explain it to them. This has led to a question that I have been getting with increasing frequency, especially from my mother: Why do you care?

In all honesty my mother comes from a partially biased perspective. Of course she accepts science and evolution, but she sees my involvment with creationism being tightly linked with my atheism and as a personal attack on anyone or anything spiritual or supernatural. She therefore becomes unconsciously defensive if I say things like "have you heard that this has happened" or "did you see that this bill might pass" with regards to creationism, until she bursts. Why do you care what happens in a country that is not your own? Why do you waste your energy watching these videos and responding to comments? Why do you get so worked up over nothing?! What is your purpose here, just to attack someone's belief for no reason?!

Of course I can't say "wow Mom, since we've never been that close I was just fishing for conversation, and I thought of something I had heard about". But the question is worth answering: why do I care?

It's because I care about science and education. I feel that every human being should have a right to have access to good education if they want one, whether they live in the Congo or the USA. It's because I think that people have ignored creationists for too long, thinking them a part of a fringe minority not worth considering, and it was precisely that lack of interest which has allowed their faux science to spread into classrooms all over the world, particularly the US and the UK. I has been a lack of clarity from the science side that has allowed so many people to fall for deceitful creationist talking points leading to a whopping 46% of the US identifying themselves as young-earth creationists, and while it is not that high in the UK yet, the number grows.

This is just one of those examples of people thinking that certain topics should be handled with kid gloves just because they touch on religion. I know for a fact that my mother nor anyone else would get this upset with me if it was holocaust deniers that were gaining so much traction, nor would she ask me "why do you care what happens in a country that is not your own" if I had brought up what was happening in Zimbabwe or Iran. I have this terrible habit of giving a shit about things that are not necessarily firmly within my monkeysphere.

I enjoy teaching others and explaining things to them so that they can also experience the wonder and beauty of the natural world. I have a true passion for biology, which is why I have wanted to study it for as long as I can remember. I want to share my wonder and knowledge about fascinating things about the natural world the same way I want to share a movie, song or book that I found particularly moving with my friends and family. It's just part of my personality. I will never, ever be too busy or not feel like explaining something that I fully understand to someone who does not. Gee, I wonder why I wound up tutoring half my bio class in high school.....

Time to take the kid gloves off. Science is science, it shouldn't matter why someone doesn't get it when you attempt to explain it to them. And if you are one of those people that gets defensive when you hear about this sort of thing, try to really examine the reason for your discomfort. Is it because you avoid all subjects regarding education, or do you treat this particular one differently than you would someone who doesn't believe the holocaust ever happened, or that Mussolini and Stalin were actually great guys?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Going Back to Original Meanings

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book. Take a word that your opposition identifies with, twist it's meaning so that it becomes an insult, watch the other side scamper away and try to find another term to define them and even use that old word to fling at each other in insult. What's more pathetic than people who do that is people who let it work by running away from the new meaning they have found attached to that word.

Words are words, we can decide that they mean whatever we want them to mean. That is why, whenever engaging in any kind of debate with someone, I get very fiscal about defining the words we are going to use before we get started. It may sound like arguing semantics, but it can put a pin in the squirming worms of apologist talking points before you allow them to waste a half hour of your time.

Here I am not trying to say that one word has one absolute meaning and that they can never be redefined. I am saying that, in protest of this sneaky tactic we should not run away from these new meanings that have cropped up for perfectly fine words. We should embrace those old words that define us, and to have a little fun we can invent new words to take on the false meaning that have since been attached to them. Here are some examples:

1. Feminist
Original Meaning: A person who argues for or defends equal rights for women
It Has Become: Hairy-armpitted hippie lesbian know-it-all who wants to castrate every man who dares even look at a woman's ass in passing.

Pfft please. I may piss off a few of the "new" feminists by saying I don't give two shits if a man looks at a woman's ass, any more than I think men should care if I take a gander at a particularly fine man-ass that happens to cross my path. It's only natural. Of course that does not mean that a man should treat a woman differently because of the fineness of her ass, or think it appropriate to grope her regardless of what she's wearing, but that is a completely different story. I want a respectful environment for my fellow vagina-bearers, not the fucking thought police.

However I have been called a feminist as an insult quite a few times. I have to admit that even I started to say "ugh I'm NOT a feminist, just because I think you're a moron when you tell me to get back in the kitchen!" Sexism is something that people don't think exists anymore, so they take equal opportunities for granted and think that if there are still "feminists" around then they must just be here to break our balls. Screw that. Be proud to be a real feminist, and to the women that do fit the above-mentioned description here's a new word for you:
                                                                Female Supremacist

2. Animal Rights Activist
Original Meaning: A person who advocates for better living conditions and against the needless causing of suffering towards animals
It Has Become: PETA-loving vegan vandal who advocates for the bombing of medical research centers

As a researcher AND an animal lover, I find this one quite upsetting. As I said before in my post on veganism, vegetarianism and animal rights, I think that this new definition does a great disservice to those who want reasonable legislation to be passed on behalf of animals. I want to ban puppy farms, not pet ownership. I want cows, pigs, sheep and chickens to have good living conditions, not to ban the sale of meat. It is also the members of the last category that fuel this separation as well, saying that you cant really be an animal lover unless you are firmly on their side. Let's face it, a vegan world is never going to exist. So let's compromise: we will keep the term animal rights activist, since we might actually be able to acheive some changes on the legislative level, and you can have:
                                                                   Vegan Fundamentalist

3. Liberal - In the US
Original Meaning: A person who advocates for the freedom of the individual and their rights
It Has Become: 1. God-hating atheist communist who is also secretly a totalitarian nazi sympathizer
                         2. Pussy

OK (1) the most extreme case scenario, but not too far off if you put together all of the ways that Fox News has used the term. What's worse is that this one has worked wonders, and now you have the left scampering over to the term "progressive", which is slowly put surely going down the same sad road as liberal is. Stop running people. Say it proudly! You are standing up for  LIBERTY and EQUAL RIGHTS for every citizen, things that are undeniably patriotic and American. And for all of you who ran for the hills at the potential of criticism from the other side, you all can keep:

Any more words I've forgotten? Let me know

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making the Distinction Between Personal Belief and Being Flat Out Wrong: Part II

This aspect of prejudice and intolerance is something that I have been wanting to comment on more fully ever since I briefly read the comments section of this video

Basically a woman working as a clerk in New York wants to quit her job because she refuses to be a part of gay men and women getting married. Well good riddance. In the video, one of the hosts notes that there are many other groups that would welcome her in for her decision, like the KKK for example.

This comment was met with a sizeable amount of outrage. How DARE he compare this woman's personal beliefs with such a vile hate group like the Klu Klux Klan??!! Just because she's not in favor of gay marriage! How reprehensible.

I disagree. First of all, the KKK hates the gays just as much as they hate the blacks and the catholics. It is true that they would commend her for her decision. So this is my question: if a person quit their job in protest of mixed race marriages, would it still be reprehensible to make such a comment based on their personal beliefs?

Assuming for a moment that this woman really does despise gay people (an assumption made on the fact that she would be willing to quit the job she's been doing for the better part of her life over something so asinine), hating gays doesn't qualify as a "personal belief" any more than hating black people. If you think racism is a personal belief and deserves the same respect as someone's religious preferences that's fine, so long as you're consistent. It's not OK to shout and be morally outraged at someone for being a flat-out racist, but pussyfoot around someone who is a flat-out homophobe.

Hating someone for how they are born, something they have no control over, is wrong no matter what, whether they are born with a certain amount of melanin in their skin, with a certain sexual preference or with a vagina. It disgusts me how homophobia is so accepted while racism is so reviled that people are terrorized into being overly PC for fear of offending someone. It's not even two sides to the same coin, it's the same side of the same coin because it's the exact same thing. It's a prejudice, dislike or even outright hatred, stemming from ignorance, for someone based on who they were born as. That's what is truly reprehensible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why I Am An Atheist

PZ Myers has put out a call for short essays on why you are an atheist. I have just submitted mine and I thought I would also post it here.

I am an atheist because I read.

I was raised in Rome Italy by a vaguely Catholic mother in a pretty Catholic country. However, since I was not forced to go to church outside of Christmas and Easter, I didn't take my first communion until I was 11 (and even then I studied my catechism with an extremely liberal nun) and my upbringing was never based on the rules and guilt-trips that are typical of the Catholic faith I did not immediately question the existence of God or the church itself. I just was not exposed to anything that was so explicitly divorced from reality from the perspective of a child. The first thing that I realized was that prayer was just not working out for me. This lead me to thinking, am I doing it right? What does being a Catholic even mean? What am I attesting to when I label myself at one? At the age of 12 I picked up the Bible and actually started to read it.

I am an atheist because I've experimented.

By age 13 I was studying ancient Roman history as is to be expected given the city in which I grew up. It struck me that the content of the Bible was no less fantastical than the wonderful stories I was learning about the gods that the Romans believed in. I came to the conclusion that all religions must be equally true. As my upbringing very much encouraged the belief in the superstitious and magic, as my mother is still a strong believer in everything from faith healings to fairies, I had now become a polytheist, I laid flower offerings at Minerva's temple in the Roman forum, I practiced Wicca and dabbled in pretty much any forgotten religion I could get my hands on.

I am an atheist because I reasoned.

Although I remained a pagan until the age of 17 when I first went to college, it had become more of a ritual than a true belief. I enjoyed keeping holidays like All Hallow's Eve, I used my prayers as a source of comfort being in a strange new country where I had to adjust. I didn't submit my faith to the sort of scrutiny I eventually knew it deserved. It was simply something to fall back on, something to keep me company, but never something I openly shared or overly contemplated. I began to transition out of feelings of faith as I made new friends, as I realized that if I was ashamed to share with others my beliefs, it must mean that they are completely ridiculous. I had now become an agnostic.

I am an atheist because I was honest with myself.

I did not identify myself as an atheist until I was 20. By then I was in my third year in college and had fully understood the scientific method. I had shied away from the term "atheist" because I was under the misguided notion that being an atheist meant being absolutely certain that there was no God. To me, this seemed as obtuse and arrogant as being absolutely 100% certain that there is a God. However once I began to fully appreciate the scientific method I realized that this was not the case. There is nothing in this life that we can really be absolutely 100% certain about, but I began to see my lack of belief like a null hypothesis.

I am an atheist because there has been no reason for me to believe in any God. I have not been presented with nor come across a single miraculous or inexplicable event that contradicts my assumption that no God exists. However, this does not mean that such an event could never happen. The day I experience something that would give credence to a God I am perfectly happy to refute my null hypothesis, but until that day comes, it holds strong.

Please share your thoughts

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Survey to Help Out

While reading Pharyngula as usual on my lunch breaks, I came across this survey on the American Family Values webpage. Of course if there's the word "Family" in the title you guessed what they're all about: FUCK the gays!

So this survey, apart from being composed of a few short and somewhat loaded questions, is supposed to demonstrate that the American people are small-minded bigots, therefore politicians should be swayed by that to vote down any legislation that would stop discrimination.

Of course this survey is on their website, so obviously the people taking it would be the kind of people that cruise that website anyway, so it's a completely biased sample. Therefore, in order to level the playing field ever so slightly, pass it around to as many people as possible and take the 20seconds to fill it out.

You will also notice that questions 1. and 3. are particularly loaded, since they are asking if the people support something that no one is advocating for anyway, but don't let that phase you. As PZ said, they're either going to have to outright lie or just ignore the survey entirely once we're all done!

Thank you for your support

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making the Distintction Between Personal Belief and Being Flat Out Wrong

I came across this video a couple of years ago, but it came back to mind as it is once again relevant given that Ron Paul is running for the GOP nomination in 2012.

When I first saw it, I was horrified that Ron Paul, a politician that is represented in the media as a perfectly rational, intelligent and sane candidate, one that is not afraid to support positions that are not necessarily 100% compliant with the usual Republican talking points, one that has a scientific background could not accept evolution. I commented on the video with the same surprise and outrage, and my comment got absolutely buried by the mass of the United Church of Ron Paul who were scandalized that I could be so critical (now the video is gaining much more traffic given the current political climate, so the tone of the comments section has changed quite a bit, so don't be shy to throw your opinion in there). Now I understand that when people find a politician, or any public figure that they like, they tend to defend said person even if they do or say things that they would not normally defend in others -- it's a personal prejudice and it is quite normal. However I thought I would take a few moments to address why I defend my harsh criticism of a candidate for taking this position, and why I would not vote for one that was a creationist.

Something that both Ron Paul says before answering the question and something that was said to me repeatedly boiled down to essentially this: creationism is a personal belief, and to decide who you are going to vote for based on what they believe is irrational and prejudicial. I would normally agree, if creationism qualified.

Now before we start arguing semantics here let me explain what I am saying. The word "belief" is often used as someone's personal opinion on just about anything. In that case, any position that any candiate takes on any policy would qualify as a "belief", and no one is arguing that you shouldn't choose who to vote for based on that. When I talk about "belief" here, I mean to say something that someone thinks is true, but there is no or ambiguous evidence for or against the matter, something that you choose to believe personally based on feelings, emotions and maybe some logic based on extremely circumstancial evidence. A belief that there is intelligent life on other planets would qualify. A belief in a higher power or a spiritual essence would also. Creationism does not.

The facts are in ladies and gentlemen. The scientific data has spoken. Evolution happens. We've seen it, tested it, not a single piece of evidence has been found that refutes it. So why does this matter?

Because a person that can look in the face of science, reason and evidence and say "nope, not buying it" because of a personal prejudice is not, in my opinion, someone that is qualified to hold the presidency of a country like the United States. Who knows what other prejudices he has. If you don't accept evolution despite the vast body of evidence behind it, what about climate change? stem cell research? vaccines? What about making a judgement call on another foreign leader based on their history? I'm not saying that Ron Paul is also a global warming-denying anti-vaxer, I'm saying he's setting up a precedent that indicates that he believes what he wants to believe, not what the evidence tells him to. For this reason, I think it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask a candidate.

He can't even use the ignorance excuse. You can say sure Rick Perry is a creationist, he almost failed every class he took in college, he just doesnt know what he's talking about. But Ron Paul is an MD for X's sake, he should fucking know better. Actually it's worse that he has this scientific background, because it lends legitimacy to his stance to his little fanboys. Go read the comments section, you'll see plenty arguing that because he's an MD his position on a scientific matter can't be completely moronic. Enough to make my head explode.

There is always the slight possibility that he's just bullshitting to please his Republican fanbase. However, since the whole reason that he has such a cult-like following is because of the fact that people think he's not a bullshitter and he says what he thinks no matter what. Whatever his motivation, I don't like it.

That's my take on the whole thing. Am I being too biased, since I myself come from a scientific background? Let me know

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts on: The Death Penalty

If you wandered over here from my youtube channel, you'll know that I have been uploading my favortive Penn and Teller Bullshit! episodes, most of which are of course a little controversial. However, of all the videos that I have uploaded, I never expected the one to get the most criticism, anger and violent comments to be the one on the death penalty.

I suppose growing up in Europe I figured, who can really be in favor of the death penalty, apart from crazy right-wingers? Sure that isn't to say that I couldn't imagine wanting someone who killed someone I love to die a slow and painful death, but that is personal anger and vengence, not something I would condone being the law of the land. When my house was broken in to and my things stolen I wished for a while that I had been in the house at the time waiting for those fuckers with a baseball bat, but the idea that the penalty by law for burglary could be pummeling someone with a piece of wood would horrify me.

Nevertheless, even allowing for a few trolls and crazies, the number of comments that were disgusted with the idea that the death penalty should be abolished was enormously high. I say trolls because I can only hope that a few, like the one that told me to get myself raped and murdered because of my dissenting opinion, or the one that said he could care less if innocent people were executed as they were acceptable collateral damage in a necessary process, were trolls. If not, that would be immensly depressing.

So, never knowing I would need to address this, it seems as though I should outline in full why I came to the conclusion that the US should get with the program and abolish the death penalty. No, it's not going to be for any lofty philosophical moral reasons. Whether or not you think it's wrong to execute someone is immaterial in this argument for the moment. It comes down to the fact that the most common arguments that are pro-death penalty are really just ways to rationalize a thirst for vengence on those who have harmed others. I want to leave personal feelings, which I don't think have a place in lawmaking, out for a while and address these "rationalizations" in turn.

1. Why spend money keeping this filth alive? Kill them and they will no longer be a burden on the state!!

Well, that one is pretty easy. States which have the death penalty, like California for example, have spent more money executing the people sentenced to death than it would have to keep them alive. If you think about it for a little bit, it really isn't that hard to understand why. People spend years on death row, they have the right to appeals, which have enormous trial costs associated with them. You also have to house them in a seperate part of the prison, you have to staff and manage that part of the prison, all of which increases the costs per prisoner enormously. Think of it like this: is it cheaper to cook dinner for 100 people, or cook dinner for 99 people but one of them has to eat a completely seperate meal?

So here people say well then forget the long appeals process and just kill them as soon as convicted, do away with death row end of story. Well, considering that over 100 people have been found to be innocent after being sentenced to death in the US you shouldn't be in favor of this at all, unless you actually do think that over 100 innocent lives are perfectly acceptable collateral damage to the justice system.

2. The death penalty acts as a deterrant for other criminals

Once again, the facts say otherwise. The US has much higher murder rates than other 1st world countries which don't have one. Even individual states within the US which have the death penalty tend to have higher murder rates than those without (see, so it's acting like a pretty shit deterrant.

3. It's justice for the families of the victim

OK, but life in prison isn't? Knowing that the monster that killed your loved one will rot in jail for the rest of their lives behind bars and die a lonely death in a cement block isn't? This argument is more difficult to understand because once again it falls back on personal feelings and opinion. There are many families that want the murderer that killed their loved one to be executed, and there are many who do not, it's not really feasible to base such a monumental law on this alone.

4. Life in jail or solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment, much better to put them to death

OK this one is absolutely ridiculous. You're saying that it's better for the criminal to be executed? Fine then, have an optional death penalty. Let the convict choose between being executed and life in prison. Actually, this is one death penalty that I could be completely in favor of.

That's the long and short of it anyway. Is there another point in this debate that I am missing? Let me know

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on: Vegans, Vegeratianism and Animal Rights

I have had this one mulling around in my brain for quite some time, but it's such a big one that I really haven't has any concrete idea as to how to approach the subject in a coherent fashion. I guess I'll just have to wing it.

I have many mixed feelings about this, and I suppose that the reason why I wound up feeling so strongly about it is because of something that is going to sound controversial and a little polemic on my part: Veganism has become something like a fundamentalist religion.

OOOH no how can you say such a thing!! Well, for two main reasons:

1. The obnoxious conviction that their way of living is the only sane and rational way of living and that anyone who does not agree is either sorely misguided or just plain evil
2. The use of faux science to support their extreme lifestyle
--> If you are a vegan that does not fit one of these two points then relax, take a deep breath, I'm not talking about you.

I call it an extreme lifestyle because let's face it, it is. It goes against a person's biology and nature. That is not to say that it can't be done, and if an adult makes the choice and becomes a vegan I have absolutely zero problems with that, to each his own. I am an unabashed believer in personal freedom. I loathe people who randomly harass strangers for smoking thinking that they're doing them a favor, and yet if they see a morbidly obese person waddling down the cookie aisle have nothing but kind words for them. Let other people do whatever they like.

When you start trying to convert people to your way of life, whether you're a Jehovah's Witness or a Vegan, I might raise an eyebrow and find you annoying, but generally speaking I will remain quite unphased.

However the moment you start spouting made-up facts and faux science in order to support your own lifestyle and convince others that your beliefs are inerrant, I will rip in to you just like I would any young-earth creationist or holocaust denier. Making shit up is just disrespectful, and using fake science to convince other people to change their lifes is dishonest and cruel. So this is my ripping apart some common talking points that I have heard in favor of vegetarianism and veganism so far:

1. Humans are not meant to eat meat. That's why we cook it. We can't digest it, because we were never meant to eat it.

Grade-A Bullshit. Haven't you ever heard of sushi?!

But that's fish that's not meat

This is one thing that annoys the crap out of me. An animal's habitat does not make it any less of an animal. Animal flesh is animal flesh, whether it lives on land, in the sea or underground. Of course there are differences between different animals, but the difference between a chicken and a pig is really no greater than the difference between a chicken and a tuna. Animals are animals and meat is meat.

Anyway even disregarding the immaginary distictions between land animals and water-dwelling ones, ever heard of steak tartare? My grandmother regularly eats minced, spiced and raw pork, she is eighty-eight years old and she digests it just fine. The reason cooked meat is better for us than raw meat is simply a hygeine one. Raw meat can contain parasites that can infect us, and cooking it kills them, therefore rendering that meat safer and healthier to eat. And yes, other animals get infected regularly from their food as well. Considering that parasitic species outnumber non-parasitic species 4:1, that should hardly be surprising.

Of course humans were "meant" to eat meat. That's why we don't have fermenting bacteria in a ceacum like plant-eating animals do. That's why we have canines and incisors for ripping and tearing our food. That is why one of the essential vitamins we need to survive is B-12, which is only found in animal products. We are omnivores by nature, like it or not.

2. Deforestation happens to create pastures for livestock, so it's wrong to support that

OK, well deforestation also happens to create fields for agricultural purposes too. Do you ever hear anyone decide to not eat vegetables for that reason alone? If you're against farming that's fine, be against it. However that means that you should not have any moral objections against eating a duck you shot in the woods, or a trout you fished with a line from the stream. You should also be growing all of your own vegetables and be completely self-sufficient. Great. But most of the people who pull out this argument are not, which I call hypocrisy.

3. Meat is high in fat and cholesterol and low in vitamins, so it's healthier not to eat it

Um so what? When did the argument become either eat ONLY meat or eat ONLY vegetables? We are omnivores, not carnivores, we're supposed to eat a healthy balance of both. Of course there are people who eat way too much meat and are unhealthy because of it, but that's hardly an argument for cutting out an enormous portion of your diet entirely. Some people eat way too many carbs and become enromously fat and sick and even develop diabetes, but that is an extremely poor argument in support of choosing a carb-free diet.

4. I can't be a meat-eater because I support animal rights

Guess what: so do I. I find making an extremism distiction between supporting animal rights and eating meat one of the great hindrances to legislation for the protection of animals. Personally, I try to always eat organic and free-range meat because I believe that, just because we eat meat, it does not mean we should cause animals to needlessly suffer. I understand that we are all animals, and humanely killing a cow for food is no more evil to me than when any other animal kills to feed itself or its family. However that does not mean that we should grow chickens in cages that are smaller than they are, or slaughter pigs en masse as they spend their last moments in terror. We have the capabilities to avoid such unneccessary cruelty, and I think we should take steps to do so. But I think that the only way that certain countries will get up-to-date with regulations against these acts of cruelty is if the people start seeing it as something that most people are in favor of, not just a handful of extremists that want to ban the killing of animals anyway so what difference does it make if the conditions they're kept in are repulsive.

Well this is an extremely long subject and I only managed to touch on a tiny fraction of it, but if there are other veins of this ongoing debate that you will like to adress just start a thread!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is Science Compatible with Religion?

Quick side note: I am fully embarassed about how much time has passed since the last time I updated this thing. I know that no one reads it anyway but still, mea culpa.

Anyway to the question at hand. While spending my lunch breaks reading science/atheist blogs this question seems to come up a lot in debates between religious scientists, skeptics, atheists and the like. Of course the general tone of the authors of the blogs I read is a hearty and emphatic


I have a slightly different opinion:

What the hell does it matter?!

If I have learnt anything from religion and religious people it is this: people will believe whatever the hell they want, no pun intended. Pointing out that the Bible is incompatible with numerous facts of life will just make them shrug and call it allegory, or open to interpretation, or say "well I'm a spiritual person, I believe in a higher power, a purpose to life on earth, not in a big man with a beard sitting on a cloud and zapping people to Hell for not believing in him". So honestly, of all the things there are to discuss in this world, I find this debate to rank on the bottom of my list.

DON'T get me wrong. There are fundamentalist weirdos who make up facts in culus and peddle them as real science which supports their warped beliefs. They fully deserve to have their ridiculous claims intellectually torn limb from demented limb, if for no other reason than to teach their listeners who are ignorant of the facts not to believe everything you hear or read, but to look things up and think for yourselves. However, when I hear about these lofty debates about whether or not a scientist should or could ever really be religious, or how a Catholic teacher reconciles their religion with the teaching of science in their classroom, I think who cares.

The mere fact that there are over 10,000 denominations of Christianity alone in this world should be all you need to hear to realize that people will warp and mould and shape their beliefs to fit their own sense of logic and morality.

Can science be compatible with religion? In some people's heads: absolutely. In others: not a chance. Objectively speaking: there is no objective answer, because there is no such thing as an objective religion. All religion is something that is modified by each user to fit him or herself, so the answer to this debate is just as subjective and personal. Is science compatible with the literal word of the Bible, is science compatible with the belief held by a certain Christian cult that states that homosexuality is a choice, these are actual concrete questions with actual concrete facts to use in a debate. The rest is just philosophical ponderings.

That's what I think anyhow, would love to hear from anyone who has thoughts on the matter, and I will try to update this blog much more often, or delete it entirely.